Spotlight: Sue Carlson

“Growing up at Slatersville Congregational Church”

When I was born in September of 1944, my mother, Gert McCutcheon, was living with her in-laws in the house on Greene Street right behind the church, and my Dad, Dave, was serving in the Army. The following year when the war was over and Dad was home, my new sibling, Dad and I were all Baptized together.

The church has always been a part of my life. We went To Sunday School every week where we learned church songs. I remember my mother teaching me “Jesus Loves Me” and saying our nightly prayers. Sunday School was so much fun! When I was a little girl, my young friends and I would play on the big common and roller skate around the sidewalk. I was so afraid of those cracks in the sidewalk. As the old saying went, I didn’t want to break my mother’s back. My best friend’s father was the sexton of the church. In order to play with her we had to help clean the church on Saturday to be ready for Jesus on Sunday. It was a chore we were proud to do, a labor of love.

The church wasn’t locked; we could borrow the kindergarten tables and chairs for birthday parties and other functions. We could come in the back door of the church at any time. The kindergarten class was held on the stage behind the curtains. At the back of the stage were the cabinets where we kept our children’s choir robes.

By the time I was 8 years old, a junior choir was started. We met on Saturday mornings to rehearse, and our mothers made our choir robes which I thought were beautiful. They were comprised of floor length maroon skirts with a white pinafore blouse, a big matching maroon bow, all topped off with a beanie. I was so proud to be in that choir with my friends and wear our new robes! Once we reached 12 years old, we were promoted to the Senior Choir.

It was about this time that a Confirmation class was started and led by the Minister. When I was confirmed, I was beaming with pride and could feel my imaginary halo placed on my head.

Besides making our choir robes, our mothers continued to do “church work”. They would gather together monthly and called themselves “The Ladies Parish Guild”. They did so many things for our church. They would make crafts and decorations for our annual bazaar and fund raiser. The men also met monthly and were a big asset in their “Men’s Fellowship Group”. In the late 1980s the church was flourishing and a big addition was added. Built over the Patio and Eastman Hall, we named it Globe Hall in honor of the church that had previously merged with us.

The ladies were able to purchase new hymn books. I don’t remember what the men’s group purchased with their funds.

In fourth grade we learned some Bible stories and verses and recited the Twenty-Third Psalm. Each year on Children’s Day we were awarded our Bibles in recognition of our accomplishments! Every Children’s Day was celebrated with a family picnic after our Church services. We would play games like “greased watermelon” and the “husband tamer” (which was a cast iron frying pan toss!) and so many other games for every age group. We had such a great time. Sunday School continued until I graduated from high school.

As teenagers, we had a Pilgrim Fellowship group that met on Sunday afternoons at the church. We had regular Officers and a Chaplain who was in charge of the prayers. The Layman’s Fellowship held our famous turkey suppers for years. The turkeys were cooked at a bakery on Rathbun Street, Woonsocket. My Dad was on that turkey basting team. The men peeled and cooked the vegetables, the ladies made apple pies. The youth group helped set up and serve the meals to more than 200 (or was it 400 people?). There was so much to do! Everyone in church had a job to do and it was fun!

We had fellowship on Sunday afternoons and we planned a monthly activity. It was 1956, and one such activity was going to see the movie “The 10 Commandments” with Charlton Heston. My mother felt that we shouldn’t ride our bikes or go see a movie on Sunday as she felt it was a day of rest for the Lord. However, after talking the matter over with the Minister, he convinced her that times were changing and that it would be ok to attend the movie.

The Eastman addition to the left side of the basement was built in the early 50s or 60s, and it leaked like a sieve! It created one problem after another. Turkey dinners went on!We had a big fundraiser with all kinds of activities to help raise money for repairs to the addition. One fundraiser that we did was on the patio on top of the Eastman Hall. It as a beautiful patio.

I remember helping Roger Champagne make the sandwiches and serving them to patrons on our patio. Our first fundraiser was a success, but the next ones were wash outs, because of the floods from the leaky roof!

Globe Church was closing and merged with Slatersville Congregational around 1974. The Church flourished at that time. So many people came from Globe. I continued in the choir as well as starting my own family. My three siblings and I were all baptized at the church. Three of us had gotten married there as well! My 4 children were baptized there, as were 2 of my grandchildren and all attended Sunday school at SCC. I love this little church that could!We enjoyed working on our many fund raisers. We made at least 3 cookbooks over the years, held popular Military Whist Card Games, so many ham and bean suppers and other suppers. And don’t forget those Super Bowl grinders made by the Youth Group every year!

I think Christmas is probably one of my favorite services. Seeing the church lit up with the luminary, the special music and the readings, and having the children take part in a lot of the services throughout Advent are a delight.

The church has given me a lifetime of great memories of community and togetherness. Every week I look forward to the camaraderie at coffee hour with good friends and familiar faces. It’s a time for sharing and caring with one another. You can feel the love from all within.